By Herron Todd White
November 2020

Southern Highlands Property Update

Quarter 1 of 2020 saw an atypical level of transactions (compared to the 2019 calendar year) within the prestige sector of the Southern Highlands, with sale prices remaining relatively static and no signs of major change in the high end residential and rural lifestyle segment.

Quarter 2 of 2020 saw the ripple effects of COVID-19! The start of the lockdown in late March brought with it an unexpectedly positive impact on the prestige market for the Southern Highlands as the area was discovered predominantly by Sydney purchasers seeking a family home, secondary residence or weekender style of accommodation and lifestyle buyers seeking relief from the urban and inner city living environment.

We had reasonably foreseen this upward trend over the medium term (six months) for the region as working from home became more common due to technological advancements and many employees being unable to attend their normal Sydney offices. What we didn’t foresee, but makes sense, is buyers flocking to the Southern Highlands region to take advantage of the lifestyle NOW given that overseas travel and family holidays are off the agenda for most of 2021 at this point. The impact of this upward trend became very evident early on in the COVID-19 pandemic and is showing no signs of abatement up to the present time.

Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 of 2020 have seen multiple sales above $3 million and days on market for this segment have continued to contract to a matter of weeks now for well-located properties. This has been clearly evidenced by a number of older listings which had been on the market for over six months gaining traction and finally selling during this period. By way of example, notable sales included two prestige properties in Burradoo which sold for in excess of $4.75 million dollars each after languishing on the market for the best part of 12 months.

We speculate that a large reason for the surge in activity in the $3 million plus sector is due to families in Sydney seeing extremely good value for money in the Southern Highlands. Typically, $3 million wouldn’t be considered the prestige end of the market in Sydney, so when home owners from the Lower North Shore and eastern suburbs sell up and realise the scale of improvements and land size they can obtain for relatively similar money, it becomes a compelling proposition due to excellent geographical positioning to Sydney and Canberra as well as the region being home to some of the best schools in the state, not to mention the predominantly rural landscape, natural beauty and reasonable proximity to the South Coast the region has to offer. As a result, it is not uncommon practice now to have several bidders from Sydney on the same proeprty, with the underbidders proactively scouring the region for a home in good central or prestige suburb locations.

Another recent example was a $4 million plus rural residential purchase in Berrima by an eastern suburbs family which saw an agreed contract price with one prospective purchaser and an additional two families waiting in line to snap up the property in the event the sales agreement failed to close.

The question for our prestige market as we move into Quarter 4 of 2020 and beyond is about continued demand and buyer depth and whether the current move to regional hubs will be sustained, thereby driving continued price growth.

For now, we can certainly see it continuing and it could well be that this push has been a long time coming, with recent events being the final straw for a number of urban dwellers to discover or rediscover the Southern Highlands and the benefits accruing from a rural and regional lifestyle.

Tim Stevens
Property Valuer

Lismore/Casino/Kyogle Property Update

Residential properties that fit the prestige description in the Kyogle and Casino regions are relatively rare. For these rural towns, any detached house within the residential zoned area achieving a sales figure above $500,000 certainly raises a few eyebrows. A case in point is the sale recorded at 17 Rous Street, Kyogle for $580,000 in July 2020. A turn of the century, Federation style, single level, five-bedroom, two-bathroom house with two-car accommodation stands out from the rest having been updated inside with heritage features such as French doors, high ceilings, coloured window panes and wrap around verandahs. It is in a handy position to the CBD, schools and shopping.

On the eastern fringe of Casino, the most expensive residential house sale within the town boundaries for 2020 thus far is 20 Country Lane which sold for $615,000 in August 2020. The property is a modern, timber clad, extremely well maintained and spacious five-bedroom, two-bathroom home with two-car accommodation located on the banks of the Richmond River in a quiet lane.

Rural residential properties within close proximity to Casino and Kyogle usually command the upper price levels, as they benefit from rural views and having the space and opportunity to go nuts on landscaping and ancillary improvements. A very tidy and well-presented rural residential property located on a 6949 square metre site is 7 Tullarook Grove at Spring Grove which sold for $675,000 in July 2020. Contemporary in its design with only three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a detached three-car garage, the house site affords rural residential views to the north-east and is only nine kilometres north-east of Casino.

Meanwhile, something special has recently happened within the established suburbs of Lismore City. As the sound of a shattered glass ceiling permeated throughout the suburbs, we all just marvelled at the event of the year. A single residential dwelling in the popular heritage suburb of Girards Hill has just breached the magic $1 million mark. Up to this point, the most expensive single residential dwelling sale within the suburbs of Lismore City was in Girards Hill, in June 2019 for $880,000, however, the single residential dwelling at 39 James Street, Girards Hill went for $1.005 million. The property is an attractive, timber clad Federation homestead which was fully renovated to retain the old character charm with a hint of decadence and has a massive, attached rear patio with easy access to enjoy the established gardens. In addition, there is a very useful studio situated above the two-car detached garage.

Whilst a bit of poetic licence in advertising helps, the prestige property at 136 Pearson Road, Eltham is NOT in the Byron or Ballina Hinterland but is still within the boundaries of Lismore City Shire, although the price of $1.65 million achieved in May 2020 would suggest otherwise! Situated high and elevated on a ridgeline, the executive style, rendered brick, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home embodies the epitome of a rural lifestyle with views towards the Nightcap Ranges and surrounding hinterland. The generously scaled home is well complemented by a large four-bay, Colorbond clad shed with three phase power, additional studio with bathroom, kitchen and deck, established landscaping and an inground, saltwater pool to boot.

The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has actually been a boost for residential and rural residential property, particularly within Lismore City, where prices and demand have strengthened whilst the availability of stock is struggling to keep up. It seems the market is being dominated by out of town buyers. For larger rural lifestyle properties near Lismore City, Casino and Kyogle, the $1 million-plus price bracket listing is becoming more common for wellpresented rural lifestyle properties with a plethora of features such as creek or river frontage, elevated rural or mountain views and good quality and range of improvements.

Rental accommodation within Lismore, Casino and Kyogle has continued to tighten with the bulk of the rental stock being listed and quickly occupied. At a rental range of $250 to $600 per week, there is a real sense of competition for the limited supply throughout the region.

Vaughan Bell
Property Valuer

Speak with a Lismore Mortgage Broker today.

Ballina Property Update

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an interesting impact on the local housing market around the coastal area of Lennox Head to Evans Head. There is very strong demand for properties which in turn has left agents with an ongoing limited supply of properties for sale. Our market seems to be mainly influenced by the movement of people from the major cities and in particular Sydney. This movement has kept property prices at a premium and in some areas has also resulted in a slight increase in values. The building industry has also been given some relief though as the North Coast is now in the bubble which allows travel into and out of Queensland.

Whilst demand resulting from these capital city markets has typically been concentrated in the more desirable areas of Byron Bay and the surrounding localities, in more recent years potential purchasers have expanded their searches into the desirable areas of the Ballina Shire, most notably Lennox Head, Skennars Head and East Ballina, as well as the rural localities of Newrybar, Brooklet, Fernleigh and Tintenbar.

Property prices may be impacted once the mortgage relief and JobKeeper payment have been lifted. Potential future impacts of COVID have left people with uncertainty as to jobs and incomes looking forward, which we may continue to experience in following years.

Bernard Walter
Property Valuer

Coffs Harbour Property Update

Being a regional area, the Coffs Coast realistically sees the prestige market as starting at the $1 million mark which is predominantly driven by out of town buyers. The largely discretionary type buyer to whom prestige property greater than $1 million appeals can be greatly impacted by changed economic conditions. This market is also heavily influenced by the performance of the capital city markets as these areas traditionally provide the majority of buyers for prestige housing on the Coffs Coast.

Market conditions have continued to firm for properties over $1 million in recent years which is confirmed by the increased sales numbers for both beachside and rural residential properties over $1 million, however the majority of sales occur within the $1 million to $1.5 million price bracket.

The higher the value, the thinner the market and historically there have been very limited sales over $2 million.

Sale volumes for prestige beachside property in the Coffs Harbour region (encompassing the beachside suburbs and townships including Coffs Harbour, Korora, Sapphire Beach, Emerald Beach, Sawtell, Woolgoolga, Safety Beach, Arrawarra Headland, Moonee Beach, Boambee and Mullaway) show a total of 11 sales recorded over $2 million since 2007 and we recently cracked the $3 million mark for 147 Edinburgh Street, Coffs Harbour at $3.25 million (multi level, architectual dwelling with ocean and harbour views located within the sought-after Jetty precinct). This figure indicates the thinness of the Coffs Harbour residential prestige market priced greater than $2 million. Notwithstanding this figure, we are now experiencing a spike in the prestige market which has been fuelled by the COVID pandemic. The changing face of the way we live and work plus the willingness of city dwellers to relocate to regional areas to escape COVID restrictions has created a definite increase in demand. The majority of this prestige activity has been in the rural residential sector with notable sales including 1-9 Tidal Crescent, Moonee Beach for $2.4 million (five dwellings set on 1.22 hectares with extensive estuary views), 123-125 Featherstones Road, Sherwood for $2.4 million (five dwellings on 70 hectares with extensive infrastructure), 606 Valery Road, Valery for $2.1 million (two dwellings on 51 hectares, fully renovated and landscaped) plus the most recent transaction which has broken all records for rural residential property at $3.3 million for 110 North Island Loop Road, Upper Orara (prestige architectural dwelling with second original cottage set on 42 hectares).

The rural township of Bellingen (35 kilometres south-west of Coffs Harbour) is always a strong performer with the out of town market and has seen four rural residential sales in excess of $1.5 million within the past four months. It is interesting to note that the majority of the properties mentioned above have been marketed for in excess of 12 months and in some cases three years which is also an indicator of the traditional thinness of this market and the recent increase in demand as a result of the COVID pandemic. The question one must ask is whether these values are sustainable or is this a bubble created by a false market driven by the pandemic. The answer to that is not simple and without a crystal ball, no one really knows, other than to comment that this is not a normal property cycle.

As a result of the market primarily being driven by out of town buyers, personal preferences, presentation and motivation of both the purchasers and vendors will impact the ultimate sale price and can result in wider market parameters than those experienced for lower priced properties. At this point in time, we can only hang on and enjoy the ride; great if you are a seller, not so good for the buyers.

Grant Oxenford
Property Valuer

Mid North Coast Region Property Update

As we reported last month, recent months have seen an unexpected recovery in the region’s real estate markets with local agents reporting a lack of stock and high interest from buyers. This appears to be driven by low interest rates and buyers from major capital cities looking to relocate. With increased working from home capabilities for a number or professions, we expect this trend  to continue in the short to medium term. With this influx of cashed up, non-local purchasers, we have seen the high-end brackets in town together with inland rural residential localities continue to perform well, with the more sought after and prestige properties achieving prices rarely seen. The increased activity in the higher end appears to be across the market, from riverfront, rural residential properties, established houses to units. One recent sale is 479 Rawdon Island Road, Rawdon Island, sold for $2 million.

We anticipate this uppermost bracket to continue to perform well given the expectation of low interest rates into the future and the continued exodus from the capital cities.

Adam Lipscombe
Property Valuer

Central Coast Region Property Update

The Central Coast has a diverse supply of prestige properties, ranging from beachfront homes hugging the sandy shores from Pearl Beach in the south stretching to Norah Head in the north to rural lifestyle properties hidden away in the natural valleys of Matcham and Holgate. Our rural region to the west of the M1 motorway, located in Mount White, Mangrove Mountain, Kulnura and Yarramalong, should not be forgotten with property owners of large rural holdings and horse stud farms calling this area home.

The year so far has been one of uncertainty and unfamiliarity with the emergence of COVID-19, however by looking through the wise lens of hindsight, the prestige market on the Central Coast has shown resilience to date with sustained confidence throughout these uncertain times. Local agents have been rather buoyed by the level of demand and are reporting increased buyer enquiry from Sydneysiders mixed in with stable local buyer interest. One reason for the increased interest from potential Sydney buyers is the change in workplace environments with the working from home movement in some professions widening the pool of buyers for the region.

Over the course of the year, we’ve seen some of the most impeccably presented homes the region has to offer transact, with the likes of 21 John Gray Close, Terrigal selling for $4.162 million on 11 May and 65 Forresters Beach Road, Forresters Beach selling for $5.2 million on 10 July as reported by CoreLogic RPData. These homes are located along the coastline and exude architectural brilliance with endless ocean views to match.

For the astute buyers out there who are looking to potentially purchase a prestige property on the Central Coast, look no further than 30 South Pacific Drive, Macmasters Beach. According to CoreLogic RPData, local agent Cathy Baker from Belle Property Killcare is currently listing this property for sale at a price it commands (guide $5.5 million). The property is located on the Macmasters Beach headland, spread over a little over one hectare, boasting an architecturally designed single level residence with its own heated pool, games room, bocce court and putting and pitching greens for the keen golfers.

Our region is home to some of the most successful and influential business entrepreneurs who make up a percentage of buyers of high-end property on the Central Coast. Celebrities look to our market to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital city lifestyle. It has been publicised that Sophie Monk purchased a rural lifestyle property in Matcham for around $2.25 million; Trevor Hamilton from McGrath Real Estate secured the sale.

Although turnover of prestige properties on the Central Coast is typically low, reflective of limited supply levels, the sale prices recorded in our most expensive market in 2020 have equally matched if not exceeded some record sale prices achieved in 2019, indicating that confidence will remain in this market segment throughout the remainder of 2020.

Todd Beckman
Property Valuer

Tamworth Property Update

Australia’s country music capital, is known for its world famous music festival and being the major regional centre for northern inland New South Wales, however compared to its city and coastal cousins, Tamworth is not necessarily known for its prestige property, but there are options for buyers seeking a luxurious place to call home.

Unlike large city and many large coastal communities, the price tag on Tamworth’s prestige market is largely considered to be anything over $1 million in close proximity to the CBD, namely located in East Tamworth, or high value smaller rural lifestyle holdings on the city’s fringes.

The prestige property in Tamworth is relatively thinly traded and subject to a degree of short volatility, however given Tamworth’s growing population and importance as a major economic centre in northern New South Wales, we view these assets as being a sound long term investment and the option for a growing family.

Many of Tamworth’s prestige properties feature large renovated double block homes in leafy East Tamworth where shopping and schools are within a five-minute drive. A recent example was the sale of 56 White Street, East Tamworth also known as Kimeree which sold on 18 December 2019 for $1.229 million. This is not far above the average Sydney house price!

There have been a number of East Tamworth prestige sales in recent years over the $1 million price point in close proximity to Tamworth’s CBD. More recently there have been fewer high value properties listed on the market and selling periods have increased throughout the COVID pandemic. However regional economies have been very resilient throughout this period and anecdotal evidence is showing a rejuvenation of major regional hubs. Many areas are experiencing outstanding seasonal conditions for farmers and rural economies continue to help drive Australia out of recession. Interest from city buyers has increased according to many agents across the region with regional prestige property providing value for money and an appealing proposition for those seeking a lifestyle change. Current prestige listings advertised in Tamworth include the following:

(https://www.realestate.com.au/property- lifestyle-nsw-tamworth-700106202)

(https://www. realestate.com.au/property-house-nsweast+ tamworth-134011846)

Will Gell/Nick Humphries 
Valuers

Speak with a Tamworth Mortgage Broker today.

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